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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

From change to transition? Learning from environmental protection activities in Sweden

Eksvard, Karin; Marquardt, Kristina


The Swedish government accepts in principle that agriculture needs to move from being an activity that contributes to humankind's excess demand on the planet to become an activity that regenerates ecosystem services. The major tool for development of European agriculture is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU implemented in the member rural development programs (RDP). Swedish farmers are dependent on the subsidies and payments of the RDP yet many are very critical of the program, especially those with animals and semi-natural pastures. A study based on semi-structured interviews with farmers in three districts in Sweden reveals the main reasons for their criticism to be: they feel trapped by regulations, powerless with respect to the controlling agency and lacking control of their finances. The study also identifies factors in the program that hinder the implementation of the sustainability goals of the CAP and RDP. The article recommends the adoption of guiding principles for facilitating transitions toward sustainable agriculture and emerging solutions to the challenges farmers experience.


Sustainable agriculture; farmer experiences; systems thinking; agroecology; rural development program

Published in

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
2018, Volume: 42, number: 2, pages: 189-209

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG2 Zero hunger

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)